The UFC wasted no time in locating a legitimate replacement for Thiago Alves, as his American Top Team colleague, Ben Saunders, has agreed to sub-in on less than 72 hours notice to face Jon Fitch this Saturday at “UFC 111: St-Pierre vs. Hardy.”
Alves sent shock waves throughout the MMA world earlier this morning after a CT Scan revealed an “irregularity in his brain,” which forced the Brazilian to immediately withdraw from his highly anticipated rematch against Fitch.
UFC president Dana White told the site that Saunders instantly volunteered his services upon hearing his ATT teammate couldn’t go. In addition, White said that Big Ben will get a title shot in his next Octagon outing if he beats Fitch.
Saunders was originally slated to face Jake Ellenberger inside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, however the opportunity to collect a victory over a fighter as accomplished as Fitch was something the 26-year-old couldn’t pass up – particularly when a shot at the 170-pound strap could be on the line.
Saunders owns an impressive 8-1-2 professional record and has posted devastating finishes in seven of those wins. “Killa B” was last seen unleashing a vicious barrage of knees on Marcus Davis at UFC 106 this past November, putting the former boxer to sleep in the 1stRound of their tango.
Fitch owns a 21-3 professional record and was riding a 16-fight win streak into his UFC 87 title fight loss to GSP. Since the loss, the American Kickboxing Academy-trained fighter has collected three consecutive unanimous decision wins, with his last coming against Mike Pierce at UFC 107.
The weekend isn’t a complete loss for Ellenberger, as MMAJunkie.com is reporting he has been promised his “show” and “win” money for the inconvenience.
With one less bout on the main card, Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting reported that the preliminary lightweight scrap between Kurt Pelligrino and Fabricio Camoes would get promoted to the televised portion of the pay-per-view broadcast.
Pelligrino confirmed the news early Thursday morning via Twitter by saying, “for all my twitterbugs I’m now on the Main Card so that means I’m on ppv haha.”
Here is your first look at Saturday’s revised lineup:
Greg Soto vs Matt Riddle
Thomas Drwal vs. Rousimar Palhares
Rodney Wallace vs. Jared Hamman
Spike TV 9PM ET/6PM PT
Ricardo Almeida vs. Matt Brown
Nate Diaz vs. Rory Markham
Kurt Pellegrino vs. Fabricio Camoes
Mark Bocek vs. Jim Miller
Jon Fitch vs. Ben Saunders
Shane Carwin vs. Frank Mir (UFC Interim Heavyweight Title)
Dan Hardy vs. Georges St-Pierre (UFC Welterweight Champion)